The United Kingdom and the European Union have reached an agreement formally adopting the UK NHS COVID pass into the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC) program. Beginning Monday, Nov. 1, the UK and EU can digitally verify each other’s COVID vaccination certificates.
The measure means British citizens who have been fully vaccinated against COVID will have their vaccination certificates accepted across the EU, making it easier to travel in more than 40 countries that are part of the EU DCC, which covers all member states and some non-EU countries, including Norway, Switzerland, Israel and Iceland.
While most countries in the EU currently accept the UK’s NHS COVID passes, only a few are able to scan them. Under the new agreement, the UK and all of the EU member states will be able to digitally verify COVID vaccination status using the EU DCC gateway, an idea which was originally floated by the EU in March as a “digital green pass.”
Britons can use their passes to prove their vaccination status to access bars and restaurants, and other venues such as museums, galleries and theatres.
NHSX, a government agency which is leading the UK’s COVID pass program, advises travelers to refresh their digital passes, which are either downloaded to an Apple Wallet or as PDFs, to make sure they are up to date when visiting countries linked to the EU DCC gateway.
“The UK was one of the first countries to launch a digital pass solution, and the NHS COVID Pass is already recognized by over 80 countries and territories across the world,” said Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX. “This news will add yet more countries to that list, simplifying international travel for COVID Pass users and enabling digital verification across Europe and beyond.”
The move to adopt the UK into the EU-wide system adds impetus to the search for a globally-recognized standard for verifying COVID vaccination certificates. The International Air Transport Association has endorsed the EU DCC as a blueprint to implement digital vaccination authentication to help facilitate travel.
In a statement, Didier Reynders, the EU commissioner for justice, said, “Safer travel is a reality thanks to the EU digital COVID certificate, which is now the leading global standard. Forty-five countries in four continents are connected to the system and more will follow in the coming weeks and months. We are open to other countries to join our system.”